Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Looking in a Mirror (Dark Souls 3)

Greetings friends!

So the past week has been most confusing for me as I've been playing Dark Souls 3, staying up far later than I should as I add to my current 30+hr playthrough knowing I'm not even halfway through.

But this is skipping to the end.

Let's just step back a bit and see how we got here...


This all started the weekend of Salute. I was aware of the Souls Kickstarter coming out from Steamforged and my Twitter feed was overflowing with talk about the latest version of the Souls franchise being released.

On the Sunday evening, as part of our traditional chicken dinner, the wife and I sat down to watch some YouTube namely Jacksfilms and Piewdiepie. One episode consisted of Felix playing Dark Souls 3 (Cathedral of the Deep area to be exact) and I caught myself asking:
What's the big deal? Seriously!?! Where's the fun in dying every 5 seconds to a bog standard mob?
so I thought I'd put my money where my mouth was and try a copy of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition.

Straight away I was pretty captivated by it. The gameplay was smooth and fluid, the graphics not terrible, and I began to understand the point of the game, but it wasn't truly clear just yet...

The more I played, the more captivated I became with the game.

I read a couple of articles, and found some interesting information. How #3 of the franchise is supposed to be a 'best of' as it were, how they utilised mechanics from the Demon Souls, Dark Souls and even Bloodborne franchises, most importantly it was supposed to be easier than the previous versions.

Seems like an ideal thing for me, so I dropped the cash for a Day One copy to snag up the exclusive soundtrack and got playing.


What a ride!

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've died playing this game, but I learned something very early on. The game itself isn't broken. Every time I died either from a fireball in the face to being slashed to bits by an almost inta-kill boss combo, it wasn't because the game was being beardy, but because I hadn't done something (or had done something) that allowed me to die. The way to progress was not to panic and mash buttons, but to stay cool-headed, learn and reapply whatever I was doing wrong.
- Or to summon help from another player in order to bounce agro around.


I need to say at this point, that coop is a wonderful part of this game. The moment you are joined by another player, the enemies get stronger to compensate, however I was reminded regularly of my game First Law: Override and our pursuit rule. How a character can only face one way at a time, even with the fastest of reflexes, they can only face one direction, so while you are the target, and you're parrying, blocking and dodging for survival, your coop partner can get in behind and smash their face in. Both players working as a team to bring that bastard down!


But now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't recognise myself.

This isn't me!

Others have claimed that a videogamer is defined by adversary, that we thrive on defeat and challenge, but that's not me. I like to be told a story, that I can experience and enjoy.

I'm not alone here. It's for this reason games such as 'walking simulators' and story driven adventure games such as the Tell-Tale series exist. It's why I almost exclusively play on easy-mode (less there's a challenge involved, like when I first played Half-Life with the challenge of completing it in a single weekend on normal difficulty - which I did with ease).

In essence, I don't like dying.

It breaks my immersion and pretty much ruins the story to me.

In fact a lot of the time, combat is seen as an obstacle in the way of story. In other words, yes I was a place-holding player in Fighting Fantasy books.

But here I am, playing a game where death is a necessary mechanic, where challenge is something that is celebrated as a critical part of the game.

I'll never start using the 'Git Gud' mantra of the Souls series in a serious way, and I will never see it as some benchmark of a 'Good' player. But it's something that I have been extremely enjoying.

So what's to come?

Well tonight I'm going to try revisiting an older zone of the game and trying my hand at an optional boss. I tried him before and he handed me my ass. Now I'm 15 levels higher, and with hope it'll be his ass that I hand to him!


Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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